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Mark-up Languages

This section introduces markup and a markup language.

What is markup

Markup refers to a printer's code of underlining and margin notes, which provides instruction to the type setters to set this in bold, that in italics, and so forth. For example, when the word "mark-up" is underlined in the proof copy, the typesetters might set it into bold: mark-up.

Often the copy to which the mark-up does not support bold or italics. What it contains is typewritten text in one face. It will be no doubt double-spaced, to assist in clear marking up.

One can see the assorted markup codes in any good printer's style-maual.

A mark-up language

The clean typewritten text in computers is ascii files, and the markup is embedded in the text, not between it. So, instead of underlining text, the text is surounded with inline markups like {b}text{/b}.

The markup is left in the source text, the program knows and expects to find the mark-up there to display.

A markup language accomidates all the sorts of common needs that one might need to set text in a document. One can adjust individual words, such as bold or italics, or the more common paragraph styles, such as ascii art or lists.


Hypertext is simply a special form of markup, where when one does something to the selected words, some additional action happens. A very common example is to jump to an other page.

Hypertext often has a hidden element, which contains the name of a page, or an instruction to be done, when this link is activated. It is often displayed in its own font, so that the reader might be aware that it exists.

Help files, Hypertext

When one does multiple and different hypertext documents, such as web pages, help files, and so forth, each different system has a different markup language. Most of these have evolved from ancient sources.

Even something like embolding the text is something different in each markup.

If one were writing for all of these markups, and others besides (eg TeX), then one has to continually change the "bold" and other markups in the source for each variation. This is where a preprocessor comes in.

A preprocessor like PPWizard makes the markups

Copyright 2002 Wendy Krieger

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